Sovereign Amonsoquath Band of Cherokee

 Tsalagi Religion

SOME POINTS ABOUT TSALAGI RELIGION

There was no special day of the week set aside for religious observance. Every day to the Tsalagi wsa contolled by religious beliefs ans observance. A new day was started by "going to water" and facing the rising sun,thanking Asgaya Galvlati for another new day and for the gift of a new sun. They preformed "going to water" when they had to break ice in the winter as well as the summer. To the Tsalagi,religion was not simply one of animism and pluralism,withas unknown universe made of spirits and unexplained mysticism. It was not a simple belief in supernatural spirits controlled throught shmanism. A Tsalagi did not worship Nature,althought he did revere it.He believed in a Creator, who was known under many names. He was called Asgaya Galvlati(Man Above),Ganodugwaludusik (Master of life),Yohewa(Great Spirit), Unequa(Great Being), and Adanehilahusgi(Creative Being, to name a few.

The Tsalagi believed that Asgaya Galvlati had many helpers and messengers. These helpers spirits and messenger spirits could be called upon by an Adawehi, or by any individual himself to give aid. These spirits may live in plant, the soil, water,fire, or any part of nature. A plant or an animal had its own spirit or being, some helpful to man, some not. The spirit that lived within these being of nature were not necessarily the spirit that lived within these beings of nature were not necessarily the spirit of its inhabiter, but were an extension of the Great Creator. The rest of the elments of nature might not have had their own being or had one of the Creative Being's residing with it, but it wsa worthy of repect and was not to be destroyed with malice.

These spirits were prayed to, not as God, but to ask them for thier assistance. The messenger spirits were asked to take messages to the Creative Being for of His helpers. Spirit helpers worked independently from the Greator Creator, and used the powers given to Him. There were many spirits living in the world of man. The most powerful and most revered was Gigagegagu(Ancient Red), the spirit of success, of life, the fighter spirit, who was called upon when a man was in need of help to solve a difficult problem.  

Ancient Red had brother spirits called Black,White,Blue. These four spirits were so close to being one that they were Degataga(So closely united as to form ine spirit), one spirit), and when they were called "As One," they were called Hikayulige(Ancient One). When an Adawehi prayed on behalf of a man, Red Woman was called upon,and when the prayer was in behalf of a women, Red Man was called upon.

Other lesser helpers were within animal spirits. The animal was not sacred to the Tsalagi, no more than man himslef, except for a few animals of religion signifiacance. But their sacredness could be nulified through sacred prayers.

There were times when an Adawehi would call upon the spirits from the four cardinal points of East, South, West and North, using their color symbols of Red, White, Black, Blue to designate the spirit they were praying to.

An Adawehi would also call upon Kananiski(Spider), Gili(dog), Kalona(Raven), Giuagiya(A Hawk from the coast), among the most powerful and most called upon spirit helpers. Only an Adawehi knew which ones should be used at a certain time. The most sacred of the animal spirit was Utsenati(He has a bell), the "Rattlesnake." All spirits of plants were to give aid in curing diseases, Tsolv(Tobacco) being the most important and sacred.

There were spirits in all phenomenons of nature, such as the wind, the storm, the clouds, and all were called upon for aid. Nuda Unelanuhi(Man Apportioner), "Sun" and Nuda Ageyaguga(Woman Measurer), "Moon" were both messanger and helper spirits.

Atsila(Fire) was the most sacred of all messenger spirits. Ama(water) was called upon for aid in involking the aid of Yuwi Gunahita(Long Person). Other important messenger spirit were Nvgitsuhulai(Four Winds) from the four cardinal points of Digalvgunyi(it comes from the East), Ugalayai(Warm there, or South), Udiligvyi (It goes down there, or West) and Ayastaluyi (Ice there, or North). Teigs and barkof Atsina(cedar) were thrown into the fire and its aroma drove off evil spirits so they could not hear what was going on.

The Anidawehi were the only ones who knew all the sacred prayers to call upon all the spirits to aid man. Some of the general prayers were taught to members of this tribenso they could call upon the aid of the Creative Being and His spirit helpers whenever they were far from an Adawehi. But the most sacred prayers were in the secret language of the Anidawehi and never known to the common man.

Religion was always esstenial to the Tsalagi and it guided his every act. His religion was not meaningless form of secret rites and formulas. It was a long studied and thought out sacred belief,not a superstition. A Tsalagi prayer was temporal, asking for good health, long life,success in endeavors, for protection against his enemies, and revenge whe he is violated. The Ani-Tsalagi thanked God for all He did for them.

The ANi-Tsalgi believed in a Creative Being and that there were supernatural spirits to call upon to either aid him or carry his message to God.

They did not know where a man's spirit went after death, but they did believe that,when a man died, his spirit traveled West to join Black Man who would guide his spirit to the After Life.

For Tsalagi, there was no punishment after death for wrongs done here in this life.

The only wonrgs a man did in his lifetime were against his fellow man, his brother animals and plants, and to anger the Spirits. No man could wrong God,for asa small,insignificant mortal, he did not have the power. He sis his best while living not to violate the rights of his fellow tribesmen and not to insult or hurt others'feelings. He tried not to anger the Bad Spirits which would bring trouble to his people. He tried to obey the religious laws as decreed by the Anidawehi,but not all things are possible to mere mortal man...

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